With the re-election of Azali Assoumani for a third term as President of the Comoros islands, the nation’s government is launching into a new and ambitious project to develop tourism in the tiny Indian Ocean nation.
Cleverdis has learned that hotel design and planning “guru” Michel Gicquel (former Accor Group head of design) has just returned to France from a four-day consulting mission to the island nation, hosted by Houmed M’Saidie, Minister for the Economy, Investments and Energy, in charge of economic integration, tourism and artisanship for the Union of the Comoros and the son of the current President, Nour Azali.
The French consultant was called upon to identify potential sites for business and leisure hotel installations, defining needs and positioning of the hotel offering and identifying potential partners for projects.
According to Gicquel, one of the determining factors for new developments will be their environmental parameters, which the Ministry says will be of vital importance to the future of any project.
Gicquel visited a number of sites over four days in October, accompanied by Rachidi Mohamed, Director of Tourism for the island state, in particular the site Galawa, for a priority project. He says Comoros is virtually a “clean slate” waiting for the right kind of project, with exceptional natural assets, and a will to develop solely on a basis of eco and social responsibility.
Gicquel was able to visit recently built boutique hotel resorts, such as the Moheli Laka Lodge and the soon to be opened Al Camar Lodge, which he says are very much a “good start” to the kind of development the Comoros are looking to develop – complementary to major hotel groups which are expected to enter the scene shortly.
“It is evident that the hospitality industry will not be expected to grow in isolation in the Comoros, and a multi-phase plan is being put together by the Government,” said Gicquel. “To be built on a solid base, this project can only happen with a clear global vision with regard to transport and other infrastructure. Staff training will also be key, and discussions are already under way with some of the world’s top hotel schools in terms of creating a local antenna which could serve not only these islands, but the region in general.”
With new natural resources and industry, there has, for the past decades, been a high level of poverty in the islands, and the Government is reported to see tourism as the ideal industry to grow and alleviate hardship across its people.
“These almost virgin islands must be respected and any construction there respect the culture, the materials and this exceptional environment which corresponds very precisely to the expectations of tomorrow,” said Gicquel. “Few destinations still have this opportunity, and I am delighted to participate in this beautiful story, which is currently being written and being able to lend my know-how in any way I can to this wonderful destination.”
With Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian and Kenya Airways already flying into Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport, a plan is on the table to renovate the international terminal over the next years, which will be key to the attractiveness of the nation for foreign visitors.
After several years of negotiations, Comoros recently gained entry into the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as 157th Member State and 51st African country to be admitted. The nation’s admission, along with the admission of Somalia, was announced during the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China, after securing a two-thirds majority vote.
Upcoming visits by Comoran government figures to Paris (with an eventual Presidential visit) will, says Gicquel, further advance ideas for potential investors.